Editor’s Note: This article was researched before UC San Diego’s transition to remote learning due to COVID-19. The programs discussed in this article are temporarily not available for student participation.
If you asked UC San Diego students to name a type of tree on campus, most would respond with eucalyptus. After all, the campus was constructed where a vast eucalyptus grove resided, and the Stuart Collection’s installments of “Trees” and “Two Running Violet V Forms” hinge on the leveling of this grove for meaning.
However, despite the eucalyptus trees’ prevalence and recognition, they are far from being the only trees on campus. In fact, there are more than a hundred different species of trees currently growing across UCSD. The beginning of the 2019-2020 academic school year kick-started three new initiatives to encourage greater awareness and support regarding tree diversity on campus.
Thousand Tree Initiative
The UCSD Thousand Tree Initiative is another way the university hopes to facilitate greater support for campus trees. Announced by the Resource Management and Planning unit in October 2019, this plan sets the goal of planting a thousand new trees on the UCSD campus within the next three years.
“Many counties and municipalities are becoming aware of the importance of healthy and abundant tree canopies,” the university’s sustainability website stated. “In addition to serving as the most important component in the fight against climate change, trees provide oxygen, food, shade, wildlife habitat, and incalculable aesthetic value.”
The initiative began on October 18 with groundskeeper Chris Johnson and several Eleanor Roosevelt College students planting two California Redwood saplings on the Eleanor Roosevelt College green. In January, Johnson helped with a second tree-planting event for the Thousand Tree Initiative by combining it with the Tree Tours, planting two more Torrey Pine trees on campus.
“I was lucky enough to be a part of the planting of the first two trees as a kick-off, two redwoods in the ERC green,” ERC sophomore Clara Pierone said. “As per usual, Chris had generously dug one of the holes before any of us arrived, and once we were there, he patiently guided us through the process, making it a really valuable learning experience for us all.”
Beyond the Tree Tours and the 1,000 Tree Initiative, Johnson spends the majority of his time on the grounds of ERC, where he plays an active role in Ellie’s Garden. Ellie’s Garden is a student organization that allows students to practice gardening and composting in the plots of land between the ERC freshman dorms. For many students, Johnson is who defines Ellie’s Garden’s positive experience.
“Chris’ devotion to bettering our campus and to teaching those around him about the environment and how we can better it really is amazing, he’s always willing to help someone who wants to learn, he’s never sparring with his generosity and he usually brings with him a funny joke and some yummy chocolate,” Pierone, who is also the president of Ellie’s Garden, added.
“Chris is an extremely kind hearted man that is passionate about plants and teaching others,” ERC freshman Kalani Piotrowski said. “Every time I have volunteered at the garden he has been welcoming and knows such a vast amount of knowledge it is hard to not strike up a conversation. Chris has been a monumental positive influence on my life and he deserves recognition for the hard work he puts in for all of us at UCSD.”
The UCSD Guardian has contacted the Sustainability Resource Center on campus regarding how the Thousand Tree Initiative’s timeline has been impacted by current instructions to limit campus visitations. The most recent numbers released numbered over 400 trees planted so far. Chris Johnson has confirmed that he is planning to continue planting and tending to trees on campus, and including his intentions to plant a tree by himself on Arbor Day to celebrate.
Photo from @UCSanDiego on Twitter.